Saturday, June 30, 2018

A Fourth of July in France, 1918

        Captain Mike Hogg and his men soon arrived at the small village of Rouvres-sur-Aube, on the Aube River in northeastern France, just behind the battle lines of the Western Front. Here they would begin training in earnest for combat just a few kilometers away. He wrote to Ima: 
                                                               Somewhere in France
                                                               Monday, July 1, 1918
         Dear Sis:
         I believe this red stuff is wine that I am writing with. It smells like it. My company just arrived at this place at 2 p.m. today. We made a long, hard hike, the kind you read about, to get here--sixteen miles from the station where we detrained. All men carried heavy packs, which, as you know, weigh about seventy pounds. Ours weighed more, because we had extra stuff to carry. However, not one man fell out. Our march was fine. . . .
         It is late spring here and everything is green. The whole country is alive with flowers. 
         I am trying to learn this lingo. Am doing very well at present. Can say few things and understand more. . . .
         This band of ours is a great institution. When marching through villages, it always plays. You have no idea the impression it makes. Many of the villages have never had a band anywhere near and others have not had one for years. It has afforded us lots of fun and pleasure.
         We had a very interesting Fourth here. We took our companies over to the next town, where there is a wonderful chateau, and had a regular American field day on the lawn in front of the chateau.
         Our work out here is just as hard as as we can stand. Many hours per day. All are doing it, though, and there seems to be nothing hurt by it.
         Well I will close; it is now nine-thirty p.m. It will soon be so dark I can’t see without a light, and I have only a candle.
         With much love - 
         Mike’s “work” was indeed hard: the 90thDivision and all other U.S. divisions were training for offensive warfare. General John J. Pershing, commander of the American Expeditionary Force, was readying his troops for battle.

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